Hearsay Heresy

Hearsay Heresy

The Heretical Herald Volume 1 Issue 2 February 22, AS XXXVIII being 2004 AD

(ed. Note that this was written a while ago and some rules of SCA Heraldry may have changed. Consult your local herald.)

Myths and misconceptions among the general populous are widespread enough about heraldry in the SCA. You hear that some things are well known facts. Some stem from bygone ages of SCA heraldry from times when rocks were still soft. There was a time when the furs were considered neither metal nor colour and so gules on counter-ermine was quite all right. (Or so I have heard and I’ve seen registered devices that indicate this the case.) However this is not about the myths and legends of SCA heraldry. It is about something perhaps more important.

Oft times a discussion will grow up about a topic and there will be different points of view coming up. One person will make a statement and someone will respond to it either backing it or contradicting it. This is all fine and good. But sometimes people have different styles of saying things. Sometimes when one person says: “I think ‘A’ is ‘B’.” they mean that they have found research that backs that statement up which would in most circles be considered proof. Other people would say “I think ‘A’ is ‘B’.” when they have heard something somewhere about it but are not 100% sure of the facts while others would phrase it like that if they just guess it would be the case. Different people would interpret the same statement based on their interpretation of the statement. So someone asks a question and someone answers, then someone agrees with that answer and another and another, and the person who asked the question starts to think they have a definitive answer. But then someone answers with something that contradicts that first answer and nobody backs them up. The person who asked the question might wonder what is up, but since more people went with the first answer they figure that is the better answer.

But what if that first person was just guessing and the second one also guessed and the third liked the second and just wanted to back them up. The last one who contradicted them actually had heard something about the case, but couldn’t remember where they had come across the answer.

I think it can be very important to say where your facts came from and just which things are facts and which are guesses and what things you remember hearing, but can’t recall where from when answering someone’s request. It is important not to post an answer simply to agree with someone if you really don’t know. It can give a false sense of surety to an answer which might not have much basis in fact to support it. Perhaps this is where some of those myths get started?

Someone guesses something. It is repeated as something someone heard or read somewhere. It gets quoted as coming from a reliable source. It becomes commonly quoted and then something well known enough that nobody has to quote its source.

If nobody can answer, perhaps then a guess might be the best bet, but state outright that it is a guess. If you can’t remember the source state that directly and perhaps whatever you can remember as to the possible source. Perhaps it might remind someone of where the actual information came from and spur someone to be able to find the actual source. But best if you know it, include where you know the fact from and tell where someone else can find the same information as best as possible. Make it possible for someone else to retrace the steps needed to find that gem of knowledge.

Remember that someone listening to you might believe you to be an expert on a subject that you know little about and they will quote verbatim what they hear you say.

The Heretical Herald is an independent Publication not associated with the SCA Inc.
or any College of Arms or College of Heraldry either in the SCA or elsewhere.
It will be published on an irregular basis as material warrants.
H. Herald editor

-© 2004 by H Herald.
Creators of original content included in
The Heretical Herald retain copyright.

Norse Code

Norse Code

The Heretical Herald Volume 1 Issue 2 February 22, AS XXXVIII being 2004 AD

(ed. Note that this was written a while ago and some rules of SCA Heraldry may have changed. Consult your local herald.)

Borre-style gripping beast; Lisbjerg gripping-beast; Norse Jelling-beast; Norse Serpent; Norse Sun Cross; Sable and Gules, Iron and Blood; and probably some other things I’ve missed are all things people would like to use in their devices. Some of these things simply aren’t allowed any more. They’ve been determined to be incompatible with SCA heraldry though you will see some of these things in devices registered in the past you wouldn’t be able to get them passed today. Many of them come under the term “zoomorphic beast” which has not been allowed since October 1998. Some people feel it unfairly restricts the expression of their persona’s culture in their heraldic design. This is true because lines must be drawn somewhere. But it need not necessarily restrict the expression of their persona’s culture in their heraldic display!

One creative bit of heraldry which you might be able to find somewhere in An Tir is a person who wanted to have a Celtic unicorn as one of their charges. Unfortunately such beasts were not registerable at that time if they ever were. After trying unsuccessfully an elegant solution was found. They simply registered their charge as a Unicorn and used artistic license when depicting the unicorn to do so in a Celtic style. It was simple. The client is happy with a Celtic unicorn on their banner, the College of Arms is happy without having to bend the rules to allow for a charge that doesn’t fit. The Heretical Herald is happy that people are happy. Though indeed this is not his solution he is happy to use it and recommend it as necessary.

There are other places where such solutions can be applied. For instance any animal where there is a Celtic variation on a Heraldic or Natural plant or animal. Likely there are other cultures such as the Norse, which this could be applied to as well. In a pinch, I suspect you could figure a way to do a “Lisbjerg gripping-beast” even. Now to my relatively untrained eye the Lisbjerg gripping-beast appears to be a smiling man lying on his side with right hand gripping left wrist and right foot grasping his neck. (The image I have seen shows his head to sinister so I have reversed right and left for one with the head to dexter as is more conventional with charges) It might be a bit of a stretch, but could you blazon a “smiling man lying on his right side grasping his left wrist with his right leg bent so his foot reaches his neck”. Simpler would be a Norse Serpent or Jelling-beast which could be described as the closest serpent or other animal and then once more just rendered appropriately with artistic license once registered.

I’d even recommend such artistic styling even without any desire for an oddness to a charge just to make the heraldic display more suited to the person carrying it. Many cultures did not use standard European heraldry, so even though this heraldry does add so much to the SCA pageantry why not take that “C” for “creative” and add some cultural flare to it. I’ve seen some interesting examples particularly with some Japanese persona bearing devices much like Japanese “Mon” and Norse Warrior types carrying shields with devices with definite Norse flare to their design. I have even seen some definite Imperial Roman style on some early Roman Britain devices.

But do remember, not to overstep. Please don’t go registering a “mole hill” and render it artistically into a “mountain” and thus conflict with someone else’s device. So don’t register a “boar” but have it painted as a “bear” just because a “bear” would have conflicted with someone.

Powerful tools can be dangerous so use them with care!

Entering into the Field

Aside

With “What’s Good Contrast?” we’ve actually posted the first “real” article rather than introductory-explanatory-what are we going to do here posts. I hope you find it interesting and useful.

H.H.

Just a Little Tenné ( Rusty)

Aside

Table of the tinctures and furs

Table of the tinctures and furs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have mentioned that a number of the articles in this column come from around 2004 and so you must be aware that some of the regulations used in the Colleges of Heraldry in the SCA may have changed or may now be interpreted differently now than then. I also acknowledge that it has been a number of years since I have been actively been practising heraldry on a daily basis so I am a bit rusty and dusty and out of practice.

I do plan on remedying any deficits in my heraldic knowledge and practice however and will happily listen to any comments — whether I have missed something, something has changed, or if I am even just wrong — please feel free to let me know, but please do so politely. We are here to learn.

Tenné” isn’t exactly “rust” coloured, but I have seen rust that is close to that heraldic tincture. I know there will be an article on the odd heraldic colours we don’t use… and there is one or two on what you might do if you absolutely must make use of them. I mean aside from letting your shield rust (tenné) or having a carpentry accident (sanguine).

Later!
H.H.

The Heretical Herald Volume 1 Issue 1

Greetings, For a start I shall be posting articles from the first issue of The Heretical Herald which I published February Eleventh, 2004. I will not be posting them as a single monolithic block and I may have to edit some and even omit some of the articles for copyright reasons. I had special permission to use certain items and management changes as well as internal offices in some organizations. This will hold true for other past issues of The Heretical Herald.

I do plan on posting new material as well in future, but I think you’ll find the articles upcoming from past issues most useful and entertaining.

“The Heretical Herald Volume 1 Issue 1 February 11, AS XXXVIII being 2004 AD”

For your information, if you are not familiar with The Society for Creative Anachronism Inc. (SCA), “AS XXXVIII” stands for “Anno Societatatus 38” or the 38th year of the society referring to the start date of the SCA.